Script for the May 20th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the May 20th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is in 1 Chronicles 11-12 and John 6. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

1 Chronicles 11

King Saul is dead. The son who could have taken the throne upon his death is also dead. The line of Saul’s 40-year monarchy has come to an end because of his unfaithfulness to the Lord. None of his descendants will ever get the opportunity to reign on Israel’s throne.

But we know from reading the book of 1 Samuel that a little shepherd boy named David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel. It appears that Samuel anointed David as king about 15 years before he actually became king at the age of 30. So, David was in the middle of his teen years when he was pulled out of the field when Samuel visited his father Jesse’s house to find the next king.

Fast-forward to 1 Chronicles 10 to observe that Saul has died. David is about 30 years old when he begins to reign in Hebron. However, David doesn’t initially reign over all of Israel. The northern tribes don’t initially recognize him as their true leader. It took 7 1/2 years for the northern tribes to get onboard to invite David to be their king as well.

And that is where 1 Chronicles 11 picks up. David is now about 37 years old, and it’s been about 20 years since he had been anointed king over Israel by Samuel. Finally, he is about to claim what has been rightfully his.

1 Chronicles 11:1-3 (CSB): “1 All Israel came together to David at Hebron and said, ‘Here we are, your own flesh and blood. 2 Even previously when Saul was king, you were leading Israel out to battle and bringing us back. The LORD your God also said to you, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will be ruler over my people Israel.” ’ 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron. David made a covenant with them at Hebron in the LORD’s presence, and they anointed David king over Israel, in keeping with the LORD’s word through Samuel.”

David had savvy. He knew that if he were to hold both the northern and southern tribes of Israel together as one nation, he needed to pick a new site to rule from. He needed a neutral site to essentially be the capital city of Israel.  

But what city could he choose? Most of the cities had been claimed by the Israelites and were already associated with one tribe or another. None of them could be considered neutral.

However, one of the few cities that hadn’t yet been conquered by the Israelites was a place called Jebus. David determined that he could conquer that city, that was not associated with any tribe, and make it the neutral capital city of all of Israel.

1 Chronicles 10:4-5 (CSB): “4 David and all Israel marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus); the Jebusites who inhabited the land were there. 5 The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, ‘You will never get in here.’ Yet David did capture the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.”

One of the following verses that best describes what happened after this is verse 9.

1 Chronicles 11:9 (CSB): “David steadily grew more powerful, and the LORD of Armies was with him.”

The rest of this chapter provides us with the names of David’s mighty men and many of their exploits. As we read the list and some of the heroic accounts, we realize that David and his army weren’t to be trifled with. They were a well-oiled machine, prepared for any battle that came their way.

God was moving powerfully through the king who would be known as “the man after God’s own heart” and is still revered by Jews today.

1 Chronicles 12

In this chapter, the writer of 1 Chronicles takes us back in time. He points us to the time when King Saul was still alive, and David had found safety in Ziklag. It’s his way of showing that David’s incredible fighting force started gathering long before he became king.

1 Chronicles 12:1-2 (CSB): “1 The following were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still banned from the presence of Saul son of Kish. They were among the warriors who helped him in battle. 2 They were archers who could use either the right or left hand, both to sling stones and shoot arrows from a bow. They were Saul’s relatives from Benjamin:”

When we read some of the things said about this fighting force that was gathering around David, to serve under his leadership, it’s “tough guy“ talk.

1 Chronicles 12:8 (CSB): “Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the desert. They were valiant warriors, trained for battle, expert with shield and spear. Their faces were like the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles on the mountains.”

1 Chronicles 12:14 (CSB): “These Gadites were army commanders; the least of them was a match for a hundred, and the greatest of them for a thousand.”

When we understand that 2 Chronicles finishes with the end of the Israelite captivity as King Cyrus released them from captivity, we realize that he is writing about David’s army almost 500 years later. So, we get the idea that while the writer is being honest, as the Holy Spirit enabled him to write these events accurately, we also realize that he is reflecting on Israel’s glorious past. As the people of Israel would go back to their land after 70+ years in captivity, it could only be hoped that they would regain the glory and prestige as a nation that they had under King David and King Solomon.

Well, getting back to the text and going back in time almost 500 years, we realize that David’s forces were growing as he prepared to take the throne.

1 Chronicles 12:22 (CSB): “At that time, men came day after day to help David until there was a great army, like an army of God.”

Then, the writer jumps ahead in time. David has been reigning as the King of Judah for about 7½ years and the people of Israel, in the north, come to make him king. When we add up the numbers of commanders and troops who came to Hebron from the northern tribes to make David their king, we come up with over 300,000 soldiers.

1 Chronicles 12:38-40 (CSB): “38 All these warriors, lined up in battle formation, came to Hebron wholeheartedly determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of Israel was also of one mind to make David king. 39 They spent three days there eating and drinking with David, for their relatives had provided for them. 40 In addition, their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali came and brought food on donkeys, camels, mules, and oxen—abundant provisions of flour, fig cakes, raisins, wine and oil, herds, and flocks. Indeed, there was joy in Israel.”

When it had been made clear to the people and David that God had willed for him to become king over all of Israel, David couldn’t do anything but say “yes.” Of course, there was happiness! Israel now had a king that they could be proud of – most of the time.

John 6

As we enter the pages of John 6, we come to one primary theme – that Jesus is the bread of life. Let’s spend some time looking at a miracle Jesus performed and some words He said to unpack what it means that Jesus is the Bread from Heaven.

In verses 1-15, we have an account of the only miracle (besides the resurrection) that is included in all four Gospels. That means this miracle is profoundly significant.

We are told in Luke that he was with his disciples near Bethsaida. If you imagine that the Sea of Galilee is like a clock, then Bethsaida is at roughly 1 o’clock. About 5,000 men plus women and children had gathered around Jesus and they were hungry. So, Jesus told His disciples to feed them.

This is a powerful word picture because this situation beautifully illustrates how people, who God is working on, are hungry for the Lord. But, left to ourselves, we cannot satisfy that hunger. It may seem impossible to satisfy. Yet it is no problem to Jesus. He is the bread that satisfies.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Jesus told his disciples to feed the massive crowd. Philip, one of Jesus’ apostles, spoke up and questioned where they could ever get enough food to feed them.

Jesus was waiting for this desperation. He wanted the disciples to know that they couldn’t satisfy the hunger within people’s souls.

John 6:10-11 (CSB): “10 Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place; so they sat down. The men numbered about five thousand. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks he distributed them to those who were seated—so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.”

This “sign” was to demonstrate that Jesus could satisfy the soul’s deepest hunger. But there was one more miracle to happen before Jesus unpacked this truth.

In verses 16-21, Jesus told the disciples to hop in their boat and cross over to Capernaum. To get to Capernaum from the area of Bethsaida, they would have stayed within a couple hundred yards of the shore to travel the five or so mile journey on the sea.

And then we read of the next miracle…

John 6:18-19 (CSB): “18 A high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. 19 After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I. Don’t be afraid.’”

Jesus could have walked along the shore, but He chose to walk on the water. Why? He certainly wasn’t showing off. Instead, He was demonstrating to the apostles that He was like no one else they had ever met. He was the Messiah, and He would give them multiple opportunities to see it demonstrated. After all, if they were going to willingly die for Him as they risked their lives to share the Good News of the Gospel, they needed more than enough proof that He was who He said He was.

In verse 22, we read that the crowds that ate the fish and bread went looking for Jesus. As they suspected, he was in Capernaum. Jesus spent a lot of time in that coastal city.

Jesus was never one to beat around the bush. He called things like they were. And He told the crowds why they had gone looking for Him. But then he took the opportunity to share the Gospel.

John 6:26-27 (CSB): “26 Jesus answered, ‘Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.’”

Jesus said, “You all walked a long way just to get another meal. Look at you. You’re sweating and worn out. And you just want to see me give you another meal of bread and fish. Don’t needlessly spend all of your time working for a meal that doesn’t ultimately satisfy you. Instead, work for the food that lasts for eternity.”

Jesus intended that this would be intriguing to them. They wouldn’t simply acknowledge his answer. He was fishing for men, and they were nibbling at the hook.

John 6:28-29 (CSB): “28 ‘What can we do to perform the works of God?’ they asked. 29 Jesus replied, ‘This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.’”

This is it! This is the Gospel! Trust in Jesus! Jesus got them to that point fairly quickly, but He had done so in a way that kept their interest. He didn’t force it down their throat. They were the ones who asked.

They were also showing their hand. Jesus had accurately said they just wanted to see a miracle, but we’re told in verse 30 that they wanted to see another sign so that they could believe in Him. They referred to the Scriptures to justify their desire for another miracle. They pointed to the manna that miraculously came from Heaven. They illuded that Moses had performed that miracle.

John 6:32-33 (CSB): “32 Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’”

Did you get that?! Jesus was clearly implying that the manna in the Old Testament was just a shadow of the reality to come. The bread that temporarily fed the Israelites pointed to the Bread of Life that could give life and satisfy the inner longings of the hungry human soul.

Jesus continued to fish. And they were biting. They said that they wanted the bread he spoke about.

John 6:35 (CSB): “‘I am the bread of life,’ Jesus told them. ‘No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.’”

Jesus wasn’t merely presenting Himself as a get-out-of-Hell-free ticket. He presented Himself as the One who could daily and eternally satisfy the soul’s deep hunger. He could satisfy the longing in the human heart for purpose, love, hope, forgiveness, and so much else.

But as Jesus spoke the truth of how He was the true manna from Heaven to eternally satisfy the human soul, people in the crowd began to get restless. They didn’t like what they were hearing.

John 6:41-42 (CSB): “41 Therefore the Jews started grumbling about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42 They were saying, ‘Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven” ’?”

This is common. People are interested in truth until they hear something they don’t like. In this case, people in the crowd believed in Jesus’ humanity. They just didn’t believe in His deity. And, friend, if we don’t believe that Jesus is God, then our faulty understanding of Jesus cannot be used by the Lord to save us. So Jesus continued to speak truth.

But Jesus took the focus off of Himself as the Bread of Life. Instead, he focused on the Father in Heaven. He said that only those who the Father was working on would seek to understand Him and would eventually believe in Him.

John 6:44 (CSB): “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Clearly, Jesus was saying that the people who were resisting the truth and refusing to believe that Jesus was God in the flesh were not being drawn by the Father. They weren’t being forced into unbelief. They were choosing unbelief for themselves without any divine coercion. But it was also true that God wasn’t drawing some of them, at least not at that moment.

Then, in verses 47-51, Jesus goes back to talking about how He is the Bread of Life. If they would eat this Bread, they would live, truly live forever. And this is where the crowds began to express their lack of understanding.

John 6:52 (CSB): “At that, the Jews argued among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’”

Jesus spoke on a spiritual level. The people were thinking on a physical level. He was talking about how their trust in Him could feed and hydrate their starving and parched souls. But all they heard was talk of cannibalism. They mocked His talk about literally eating His body.

Now if it was you or me, we may realize what’s going on and say: “Hey, we’re not talking on the same wavelength. What I mean is not what you think. So, let me go back and start all over again and carefully define my terms.”

But Jesus didn’t do this. He spoke truth in ways that may make people confused or angry, but they wouldn’t forget what He said. And He was about to go full bore.

John 6:53-58 (CSB): “53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves. 54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day, 55 because my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate—and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.’”

Why did Jesus say things like this? Why didn’t He simplify His message so that they could understand it right then and there? I think it is at least for a couple of reasons.

First, Jesus concealed the truth from people who would not believe it. If they understood His message and then willfully rejected it, they would only increase their guilt on the Day of Judgment. So it seems that He sometimes concealed His message from unbelievers. We’re also told in Matthew 13:10-17 that Jesus often spoke in parables for this very reason.

But the second reason seems to be that Jesus wanted them to go away and reflect on His words. Some of them would have left his presence scratching their heads. But they would have thought: “OK. I really want to understand what Jesus meant when He said He is the Bread from Heaven that can satisfy my hunger. And I’m going to reflect on this until I understand it.” It seems that this sort of serious, patient reflection would have changed the hearer’s thinking much more than merely nodding their head in agreement as they listened to Him.

Then we read that some of the people spit out the hook.

John 6:66 (CSB): “From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him.”

As the disciples saw the crowds leaving, I suspect they were wondering why Jesus had lost the opportunity to grow His following. They believed that He was the Messiah, the long-awaited King of Israel. They expected the people of Israel to see Jesus’ miracles and hear His words and they would all rally around Him. And yet Jesus is saying things that send them away. What was going on?

As the apostles were trying to figure Jesus out, He looked at them and asked them a question.

John 6:67 (CSB): “So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘You don’t want to go away too, do you?’”

As the crowds were leaving, Jesus asked the Twelve about their loyalty to Him. Were they still committed to following Him or would they leave, too?

And then Peter speaks up. From his heart, he makes it clear that Jesus has what they’ve been looking for their whole life.

John 6:68-69 (CSB): “68 Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’”

This was a powerful moment. All of the other disciples would have been shaking their heads in affirmation. I think even Judas at this point was shaking his head in affirmation. They were following Jesus. They believed He was the One who came from God and they were ready for the ride. They would follow Him wherever He went.

Then Jesus threw water on the fire of this moment.

John 6:70-71 (CSB): “70 Jesus replied to them, ‘Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.’ 71 He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray him.”

Friend, following Jesus isn’t a nice easy path. Just as He often left the Apostles scratching their heads in confusion, the life of a Jesus-follower might often feel the same way. But we shouldn’t be surprised by this because Jesus doesn’t think like us. Just listen to what the prophet Isaiah said as he quoted the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (CSB): “8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.’ This is the LORD’s declaration. 9 ‘For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

This is why we need to not merely read but study our Bibles in order to cultivate a mind that thinks the way that God wants us to think. But we also desperately need to rely upon the Holy Spirit and the spiritual discipline of prayer. Because without these, life may seem like one head-scratching moment after another. But if we get into the Word, spend much time in prayer, and rely upon the Holy Spirit, following Jesus will be much easier and more enjoyable.

Just try it.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we are so grateful that You have made Yourself known to us in the Bible. We get to listen to You speak and watch as You act and interact with others. But there can still be plenty of confusion when we try to obey and follow You in the moments of our days. So, help us, Lord, to spend time in Your Word, time in heartfelt prayer, and rely moment-by-moment upon the Holy Spirit. Then, we can truly follow You in the one life You have given to us. We pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!